The Long-Term Effects of Overloading Your Life

Despite the push from media and movies, it’s impossible to “have it all.” 

Though happiness looks very different to different people, the rush for its idealized image is driving our generation into the ground. 

The human brain can hold a petabyte of information, about the size of the entire internet (even though it doesn’t always feel that way). In the age of technology, with news and knowledge spreading faster than ever before, connecting people across the globe with understanding, it’s easier to get toward that tall brim of overload. It’s called “information pollution,” neurons overloaded with statistics, a staggered string of deadlines, interactive projects, or simply useless details. It can ultimately destroy them. 

Mental health has become a huge component of individual wellness over the last few decades, with the growing pace of information creating a new pressure and technological stress. 

Photo by Christina of from UnSplash

1. Worsening attention span

In society, we applaud those who can seemingly “do it all” — have the relationship, perfect job, and room for more. And yet, the dash for the elusive “everything” is making it harder to actually get there or be happy with what we have.

Instead of becoming smarter and more competent by adding more things to our plates, we’re getting dumber. As a society, our attention spans are shrinking under the weight of wanting it all. We don’t read as much as we used to. Our videos are shorter. Our movies are sharper. Our conversations are shot over text, rather than met over coffee in the middle of the day.

It’s not our fault. The push has been happening since the Industrial Revolution, since lights were invented so production didn’t have to end when everything began to get dark. And yet, by loosening up your schedule and making time for yourself, the speed of progression can be stopped. 

2. Increased blood pressure

When you stress, can you feel your heartbeat in your throat? Have you developed anxiety in a way that you didn’t have before? 

Many have chronic anxiety and depression, but for others, it can be a symptom of inadvertently (or purposefully) overloading your life. Increased stress can lead to high blood pressure and a series of long-term health issues without treatment. 

girl sleeping in black and white Kinga Cichewicz

3. Not sleeping

Those glowing screens don’t put you to sleep, no matter how much you want them to. Not even in dark mode. Not even with night-shift. 

In the age of technology, with parties until morning and classes until dark, it’s hard to differentiate between what is wanted and what is required. It’s hard to say “no” and think of ourselves before others. In fact, sometimes it’s hard to think about ourselves at all.

A lack of sleep can stem from stress by leaving the brain to wander at night and stimulate insomnia, or by dropping down sleep from a priority within our lives. But when sleep is neglected as a necessary health process, it can lead to headaches, nausea, a loss in appetite, more stress and anxiety, high blood pressure, diminished productivity, and a low mood or energy. These things can become deterred by a change in lifestyle or long-term progressive issues.

4. Not eating / Malnourishment / Unexplained weight gain

Though the title may not look like it, these three symptoms are all connected by the stress of overloading. Anxiety. Hopelessness. Depression. They all affect people differently, which is why it may be harder to spot these symptoms. But if you’re too busy to eat. If you gorge on food at night either to soothe yourself or because you’ve had no other time to eat, you may experience complications with nourishment and unexplained weight gain. 

Your metabolism is a delicate balance. If you pay attention to it (I know, another thing to think about) then it will treat you well. Everyone has a different metabolism based on genetics, daily schedule, puberty, and even prenatal food intake. That’s a given. But, your stress and time can also affect how it progresses. If you don’t eat all day until an hour before bed, your metabolism is going to decline. Your body needs energy throughout the day and by depriving it of that, it will go into survival mode and hold on tight to anything you let it have. 

It’s important to take care of your body by looking at what goes into it and prioritizing your mental health. Unhealthy eating, along with other factors, can sometimes lead to eating disorders. It creates an unhealthy association with food rather than a life-sustaining tool. It is perceived as a distraction from work.  

As always, make sure to talk to a therapist or other mental health professional if you or someone you know may be suffering from any of the mentioned points above. 

Overloading is not the way to “have it all.” It’s a toxic mindset that can have long-term consequences. Make sure to take time for yourself and know your limits. Life is not about winning, but finding your own individual greatness.